What is Hashing?

So, what the heck is the hash? It's got nothing to do with coffee shops; it's a world wide 'drinking club with a running problem.' It started back in 1938 in Kuala Lumpur, and has spread throughout the globe since then. The original club formed to do a paper chase run (if you're Dutch, think speurtocht) followed by a session at their local club, nicknamed The Hash House. In other words, their purpose was to build up a good thirst, and then to satisfy it. You can read a more complete history of the hash at http://harrier.net/presskit/shistory.html.

What to expect

The rules of the hash are simple: there are none. The hares set the trail, either a few hours or the day before (a dead hare trail) or five or ten minutes before the hash starts (a live hare trail). The pack tries to follow the trial, solving the various challenges along the way and often stopping for a drink stop halfway through. The hares use various markings on the trail to tell the pack where to go, most often using chalk, flour, or sawdust.

Some of the markings we often use in Amsterdam are:
This indicates the beginning of our trail
A blob or arrow or general splotch. Generally, this tells you you're heading in the right direction
A circle with a cross inside is called a check. From here the trail could go anywhere - usually you need to find three blobs in a particular direction before you know for sure if you're heading the right way.
An F means that you've found a false trail. Usually, this means you need to go back to the check and look in a different direction. Some hares will use this marking to mean 'go back to the last big intersection and look from there.'
Beer near. The beer stop is coming soon.
The beloved BS is a beer stop.
  On In means you're done and it's time to head back to the end of the trail.
 
Here are marks we use less often...
Sometimes we have separate parts of trails for runners and walkers. This is the runners trail.
Sometimes we have separate parts of trails for runners and walkers. This is the walkers trail.
Fish Hook. The first n people (in this case 3) who reach this mark have to run to the back of the pack. A punishment for FRBs.
Hash View: Beautiful scenery, hookers, or other viewworthy stop
Ladies check
Check back n number of blobs or arrows (in this case, 3)
Drink stop. Shots, soft drinks, palinka... anything other than beer.

Virgin's Guide to Hashing with Amsterdam H3

This guide is presented according to the mannerisms that are espoused by the Amsterdam Chapter of the Hash House Harriers. If you get brought up on a charge anywhere else by following these instructions then that's not my fault, but then again that *is* half the fun.

Before You Go

Hashing is an outdoor activity so it is important to be properly kitted out for the event. If you've never been hashing before then you will need at least the following articles of clothing:

  • Running Shoes
  • T-Shirt
  • Shorts

Change of Clothing, or at least a sweatshirt as you may get cold after the run. Especially in winter time. A hash experience is meant to be enjoyable, but if you are literally freezing to death a moments thought now may make the experience just that much more pleasurable.

Getting to the Hash

Make sure you you know where you are going. Many hashes will start religiously at the time appointed so get there early enough that you can be ready to go on the appointed hour. However in Amsterdam, we have a different definition of on time which means that the further away from Amsterdam we are the later we start. This is entirely due to the traffic and has nothing to do with our hashers being incapable of turning up on time.
Avoid driving! Most runs are set near public transport... use it! 

Before the Hash

When you arrive at the hash site, the hashers should be fairly easy to find. In the event of difficulty shouting "On-On" a couple of times until you get a response will lead you the bunch of individuals you were looking for. At this point people will ask you questions like: "Who are you?" and "Are you a virgin?" Suffice it to say they are not enquiring about your sexual prowess but are in fact asking if you've ever been hashing before. They will also introduce themselves with a variety of weird names, these are hash names earned after some spectacular exploit which merited them being given that name. Don't worry you'll never remember them all especially after a couple of beers.

Now pay. Current hash run fee is 5 Euros. This pays for the beer your about to drink and snacks at the end of the trail. Someone will often come round and ask you for money. Now all you need do is get ready to run, but no stretching!!! Stretching is a hash crime and one of the many that you can commit. Crimes are punished after the Hash so don't assume you can get away with it because no one says anything at the time.

Someone will now shout "Circle Up" and you are ready for the off.

Making your way Round the Hash

On the shout of circle up everyone forms a circle round the RA (Religious Adviser) who will summon the hare(s) to the fore. The hares are the people who have laid out the trail you are about to follow. Memorize their faces as these people know where the trail leads so when in doubt look for them. With the hares introduced they will tell you about the trail.

The trail will be laid using a one of or a combination of flour, sawdust and chalk. The trail in the main will consist of blobs of sawdust or flour or an arrow in chalk. These signs mean that you are on the trail and that you should carry on going to the next blob shouting ON-ONE, ON_TWO and then ON_ON as you get to the third blob in a row. You are now On Trail.  If you never find the third blob you must go back to the last check and look in another direction until you find all three blobs. Once on trail you may run across several additional signs (see above). 

Hash Breaks

  Beer Check When this sign is seen it means stop, beer is about to be consumed. In many hashes a beer stop is obligatory, but not in Amsterdam. A beer stop normally takes place on the street but occasionally the beer stop is in a pub.  This check could be proceeded by BN (Beer Near) or may be marked at BS (Beer Stop)
  Song Check On sight of this sign stop, a song is about to be sung. If you want to learn our hash songs then download a copy of our Hash Songbook, available on our goodies page. All you need to do is print it out and carry it with you at all times..

The Hare may use other signs then those mentioned, but don't worry they will explain everything at the start of the run.

Finishing the Hash

Eventually you will see the words "On-In" in whatever medium the hares choose on the trail. This means the end of the trail is near by and most importantly the beer is at hand. When you arrive at the finish please give a hand in getting beer and such like things organized. Nobody gets paid for this and a little hand is always appreciated. And all you back markers can help clean up afterwards.

The Circle

After a short interval to allow all the hashers to get their breath back and put on any new items of clothing they wish the RA will call the circle to order and proceed to punish all the transgressors of the week. The RA can invent new transgressions when ever they like, but a few of the common ones are:

  • Stretching before the hash
  • Urinating whilst hashing
  • Being Late

There are many others, but I'm not going to spoil the fun by telling them to you now. Don't worry though, as a first timer you'll get one just for that.

The punishment for a transgression is the drinking of a beer whilst being serenaded by your fellow hashers to the likes of "Drink it down - down - down".

The Hash Hymn

The circle concludes with the singing of the Hash Hymn - Swing Low Sweet Chariot. The words can be found in our songbook and the the hand actions that go with it are easily learnt.

The On On

After we've stood around and done everything we usually go to a pub for more beer and/or food before resuming our daily lives. Everyone is welcome to join in and we hope you will too.

Till we see you...

ON - ON 

Doggy Style

Photos by Anything Butt